About Caldas da Rainha
Caldas da Rainha is a city in western central Portugal. The city serves as the seat of the larger municipality of the same name and is the seat of the Comunidade Intermunicipal do Oeste (West Intermunicipal Community). The city is best known for its hot springs and pottery.
The city was founded in the 15th century by Queen Leonor, who established a hospital at the site of some therapeutic hot springs. The Hospital Termal Rainha D. Leonor is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the world, with five centuries of history. The city’s name means “Queen’s Hot Springs” or “Queen’s Spa”.
Caldas da Rainha is home to many arts-related institutions. There are numerous museums in the city, mostly related to ceramics and sculpture. The city is home to a major arts and design school, as well as a school of ceramics. In 2008, the municipal government inaugurated a new cultural center.
What to do in Caldas da Rainha
The spa of Caldas da Rainha gradually developed round the Free Hospital which was founded by Queen Leonor in 1485. Today it is an important fruit growing region and a centre for the production of traditional ceramics. A pleasant town with a wooded park and boating lake in the centre.
It is a traditional retreat for the Portuguese escaping the heat of the city of Lisbon. Popular for it’s spa, clean air, and nearby beaches. Caldas is a working and regional market town, with three markets every weekday. It has city status and was founded by Queen Leonor who formed the thermal hospital at the springs.
The daily fruit market is central to the activity, it sells fruit, vegetables, nuts, cheese, some basket wear, flowers and ceramics.Walk through the pedestrian precinct from the fruit market. You will pass a bakery on your right which sells fresh bread in the mornings.
Every Monday there is a massive market just out of town. This market sells everything from Tractors and chickens, to shoes and furniture. Barbecued chicken is served in the tent style restaurants.
Parque D. Carlos I is a large park in the center of town. The José Malhoa Museum sits in the middle of the park. The park contains a doughnut-shaped pond with a small island in the center. Visitors can rent rowboats on the pond.
Praça da República (Republic Plaza) is a public square in the center of town. The plaza, also known as Praça da Fruta (Fruit Plaza), hosts Portugal’s only daily farmers’ market. The plaza is surrounded by buildings, most containing shops, banks, and cafés on the ground floor.
Praça 5 de Outubro (October 5 Plaza) formerly hosted the city’s open-air fish market, which has since moved to an indoor location (Mercado do Peixe). The plaza is now used for outdoor café seating and free cultural events. A parking garage sits underground below the plaza.
Several museums are located in Caldas da Rainha. The Centro de Artes (arts center) hosts three museums of sculpture: the Museu-Atelier António Duarte, the Museu-Atelier João Fragoso, and the Museu Barata Feyo.
The Museu de Cerâmica exhibits ceramic works of art, as does the Casa-Museu de São Rafael.The Museu do Hospital e das Caldas features exhibits related to the thermal hospital and the city.The Museu José Malhoa is an art museum located in Parque D. Carlos I.
What to eat in Caldas da Rainha
Caldas da Rainha is also rich in gastronomy, with prominence for the bivalve ones, eels, robalo and linguado fishes of the lagoon, accompanied by the delicious white wines of the hillsides of Alvorninha.
The most famous sweets of Caldas da Rainha are Cavacas das Caldas. Cavacas das Caldas are a small-bowl-sized, shell-shaped confection of flour and eggs, with a crunchy sugar covering. In June 2005, a 26 meter pyramid of cavacas was erected on Praça 25 de Abril in front of the city hall. Beijinhos das Caldas are similar, but are smaller and round.